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Friday, November 30, 2018

Satellites Warn African Farmers Of Pest Infestations

UK researchers have developed an early warning system to prevent the crops of African farmers from being devastated.

The Pest Risk Information Service (Prise) combines temperature data and weather forecasts with computer models.

It then sends farmers a mobile phone alert so that they can take precautions.

It is hoped that the system will boost yields and increase farm incomes by up to 20%.


Prise is being used in Kenya, Ghana and Zambia and will be rolled out soon in other parts of the world.

Prise is an upgrade of a highly successful UK Aid scheme run by the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International development charity (CABI). It uses a network of so called "plant doctors" and clinics to advise farmers when pests or diseases destroy their crops.

Image caption Farmers and plant doctors have access to an app to help them diagnose pest infestations and suggest remedies

The "doctors" draw on a database using an an app to help them to diagnose the issue and then prescribe the right pesticide and other measures. Walter Wafula, who grows Maize in Bungoma in Kenya, told BBC News that the service had transformed his family's lives.

"Because of the increased income from my farm, my kids can now go to a better school and the life at home has improved because I can provide the basic needs for my family," he said.

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